Animated plastic toys like Cowboy, Indian and Horse have problems, too. Cowboy and Indian's plan to surprise Horse with a homemade birthday gift backfires when they destroy his house instead. Surreal adventures take over as the trio travel to the center of the earth, trek across frozen tundra and discover a parallel underwater universe where pointy-headed (and dishonest!) creatures live. With panic a permanent feature of life in this papier mâché town, will Horse and his girlfriend ever be alone?
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A Town Called Panic is the anarchic, frenetic feature film version of the popular Belgian cartoon of the same name. Technically crude but all the better for it, the film like the cartoon is stop-motion animated using what look like (and in some cases are) the cheap plastic toy figurines that came by the dozens in bags, complete with plastic bases affixed to their feet. It stars Indian and Cowboy, two best-friend troublemaking goofs sharing a room in a house with the older, more serious Horse. They live in a small village with an angry farmer, his patient wife, their legion of pigs, chickens and cows (who take music lessons from Madame LongrÃƒÂ©e, the red-maned object of HorseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nervous affection) and a policeman in charge of keeping the peace.
After a birthday celebration goes awry, Horse, Cowboy and Indian are left with a mystery that leads them on an adventure that takes them in 20 minutes from the centre of the earth to the north pole in a battle with bizarre terrorist scientists, to the bottom of the ocean and back. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s riotously creative and thoroughly enjoyable, a kids movie that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pander or play down, with enough solid character-based humour to sustain itself with older audiences over the long haul. It suffers from being a little one-note, especially at an hour plus, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a small complaint. It doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t drag at all.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also a great example of how creativity, real creativity and a solid, technically sound script can eclipse the need for effects, giant lighting kits, lingering close-ups on beautiful emoting womensÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ faces and all of the other expensive cinematic Ã¢â‚¬Å“fundamentalsÃ¢â‚¬Â that can stand in the way of a dude with an idea and a hundred bucks and a finished movie. A Town Called Panic is inspirationally small-scale Ã¢â‚¬â€œ unless IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m desperately stupid, the total cost for everything that makes it on screen couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be more than a couple thousand bucks Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but manages to convey a convincing, charming sense of adventure using only wit and effort. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s d.i.y. to the core, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s inspirational.